Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Questions witnesses during a hearing on Venezuela on Aug. 4, 2020.
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Republican Senator Marco Rubio on Friday sided with the Amazon workers in Alabama who are in the process of organizing their camp and provided bipartisan support behind the closely watched union election.
In a statement in USA Today, Rubio alleged that Amazon was “waging a war on working class values” and “trying to crush the union vote” at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
“Gone are the days when conservatives were taken for granted by the business community,” wrote Rubio. “Here’s my standard: When the conflict is between working Americans and a company whose leadership has decided to wage a culture war against working class values, the choice is simple – I support the workers. And that’s why I’m Bessemer with them – Stock from Amazon today. “
Last month, nearly 6,000 employees at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse voted by mail to join the retail, wholesale and department stores union. This marked the start of the company’s first major union effort since 2014. Employees at the Alabama plant notified the National Labor Relations Board last November of their plans to hold a vote on whether they should be represented by RWDSU.
The ballot papers were sent to staff on February 8th and must be received by the NLRB regional office by March 29th. The counting begins the following day.
The endorsement of Rubio, a Republican from Florida, means that the union campaign in Bessemer is supported by two parties. Last week a group of Democratic Congressmen went to the Bessemer warehouse to support the union vote. President Joe Biden has also expressed solidarity with the Amazon workers by telling them to “make your voice heard”.
Rubio, while advocating the Amazon union movement, was still skeptical of the unions. Claims that “controversial relationships” between workers and management could cause American industry to “lose ground to foreign competition”.
In a statement, union president Stuart Appelbaum thanked Rubio for his support for the union action.
“Senator Rubio’s support shows that the best way for working people to achieve dignity and respect in the workplace is through union formation,” said Appelbaum. “This shouldn’t be a partisan question.”
Representatives from Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Amazon previously stated that it respects workers’ right to join a union, but also that its workers do not need a union to get between them and the company. It has held mandatory meetings with workers presenting the case against union formation and has set up a website encouraging workers to “do it free of charge”.